Information Systems Project Management: How to Deliver Function and Value in Information Technology Projects

Overview

"It’s common in the IT industry to hear of project disasters: overdue products, blown budget estimates, and dismal results. And the root cause of most of these commonplace disasters is the simple fact that people skilled in the technical aspects of a project are often not prepared to manage them.

Managing projects requires expert skill in managing budgets, people, and processes. It requires someone who is proficient in project management — especially in the highly complex, project-driven IT industry. Information ...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (12) from $2.97   
  • New (1) from $115.00   
  • Used (11) from $2.97   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$115.00
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(113)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Close
Sort by
Sending request ...

Overview

"It’s common in the IT industry to hear of project disasters: overdue products, blown budget estimates, and dismal results. And the root cause of most of these commonplace disasters is the simple fact that people skilled in the technical aspects of a project are often not prepared to manage them.

Managing projects requires expert skill in managing budgets, people, and processes. It requires someone who is proficient in project management — especially in the highly complex, project-driven IT industry. Information Systems Project Management gives you the powerful tips and tools you need to deliver results.

A definitive resource for IT professionals, the second edition of Information Systems Project Management uses clear language and real-world examples to guide you through each key step of understanding the project, defining it, planning it, and running it—and bringing it to completion. And the book shows you how to steer clear of pitfalls that can quickly derail your project, including scope changes that are not adequately defined, tracked, and managed; poor planning, especially planning that overlooks project activities; and an overabundance of technology tools, which often results in decreased productivity.

Plus, the second edition comes complete with all-new sections on how to:
• manage projects when you’re also a team participant
• define the proper objective
• get your projects off to a good start
• understand a variety of system-development life cycles
• plan for a smooth project implementation
• and complete a project cleanly, from capturing lessons learned to administrative closeout. The book is also packed with new checklists, worksheets, and action plans for dozens of "what-if" scenarios.

Whether your project entails implementing major packages, upgrading hardware, designing a technology architecture, or developing a systems strategic plan, Information Systems Project Management helps you successfully deliver your projects on time, on budget, and with desired results."

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814472736
  • Publisher: AMACOM
  • Publication date: 3/28/2005
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jolyon Hallows has more than 35 years of experience in IT, particularly in developing and troubleshooting complex and high-visibility systems applications. He lives in Burnaby, British Columbia.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

"List of Exhibits

Preface to the Second Edition

Acknowledgments

1. Introduction

The Project Management Context

What Is a Successful Project?

Why Do Projects Fail?

The Project Control Environment

How Do You Know You Have a Project?

The Role of a Project Management Office

Some Comments on Project Life Cycles

Managing and Participating

Some Notes on Terminology

About This Book

2. Understanding the Project

Why Are We Doing This?

Why Be Concerned with Project Justification?

What Is the Background to This Project?

Who Are the Players?

What Are the Client’s Priorities?

Project Initiation

3. Defining the Project

Defining the Deliverables

Defining the Project Objective

Defining the Scope

Review and Approval

Systems Development Life Cycles

4. Planning the Project

Defining and Managing Risk

Project Assumptions and Constraints

Planning for Quality

Defining Project Activities

Establishing Dependencies

Estimating the Project

Preparing the Schedule

Resource Leveling

Aligning the Schedule

Preparing the Project Budget

Paperwork

Planning for Implementation

Planning for Completion

Communications

The Project Plan

5. Running the Project

Building the Team

Tracking Progress

Earned Value

Negotiating for Resources

Controlling Action Items

Managing Risks

Solving Overrun Problems

Managing Scope Changes

Managing Quality

Microplanning

Managing Subcontractors

Managing Client Expectations

Team Meetings

Reporting Status

Reflection

Closing the Project

Project Completion

Conclusion

Index"

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Information Systems Project Management

How to Deliver Function and Value in Information Technology Projects
By Jolyon E. Hallows

AMACOM Books

Copyright © 2001 Jolyon E. Hallows
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-8144-0368-9


Chapter One

Understanding the Project

Managing projects requires that you make decisions, which, in turn, requires that you understand the project environment, background, and people. In other words, you need to understand the cultural and political context of the project. If you have been appointed project manager because of your technical seniority, one of the temptations you will have to overcome is to focus on technical issues rather than on those you consider "political" and therefore the responsibility of others. Hard though it may be to admit, the people side of projects is more important than the technical side.

To manage a project, you need to understand four things:

1. Why is this project being done? What does the client expect to get from it? 2. What is the background to this project? How did we get to where we are? 3. Who are the players? Who has fought for this project? Who has fought against it? Who is the executive sponsor? 4. What is the client's priority for this project?

These questions overlap; they all reflect different ways of acquiring an understanding of the project. But they are not exhaustive. Projects involve a dynamic mix of people with different interests, philosophies, values, approaches, and priorities. One of your main functions as a project manager is to ensure that this mix becomes coherent and drives the project forward. The alternative is chaos.

On Fiduciary Responsibility

Project management is not gentle, nor does it depend upon uncritically pleasing the client. At times, the good of the project requires that you challenge client decisions or actions and oppose those that put the project at risk. As project manager, you are the representative of the project: If it could speak, what would it say? This role is common in business-executives and board members can be held legally accountable for exercising their "fiduciary responsibility" to act on behalf of their company. As project manager, you must also accept that you have a fiduciary responsibility to act on behalf of the project.

WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?

There is only one valid reason to spend money on a project: It will generate or save more money than it costs. Unfortunately, there is confusion between a project's purpose and its justification. The purpose of a project is a general statement about why the project is being carried out. A purpose statement may be:

The purpose of this project is to create a state-of-the-art, on-line, real-time inventory system that will allow us to manage our inventory more closely while continuing to meet the demands of our customers.

This purpose statement, despite the high-tech buzzwords, is clear: We are going to build a system that will manage inventory. What it does not tell us is whether the project is justified-that is, whether it will save or earn more than it will cost.

A justification is an analysis of the costs versus the benefits showing that the benefits are greater. (If the analysis shows that the costs are greater, then it is a justification for scrapping the project, not for proceeding.) A justification describes exactly where the improved savings or revenues will arise.

Many justifications are filled with such vague notions as flexibility, customer service, integration, state-of-the-art, and other motherhood values that remain both unchallenged and undefined. But a true justification has two necessary characteristics: It is dollar quantified, and it is treated as a target or goal.

Justifications Are Dollar Quantified

A justification describes the returns that will accrue from doing a project: the benefit side of a cost-benefit analysis. It must be quantified; if it is not, nobody will know in the beginning if the project is worthwhile or in the end if it was successful.

Consider the justification, "to increase customer service." This could mean reducing response time to customer inquiries, improving the accuracy or quantity of information available, adding to the services that are offered, or simply smiling at customers. Without more detail, nobody will understand what is expected.

Furthermore, if the justification is not quantified, then any improvement, however slight, in any area affecting customers will allow the company to claim that service has been increased. For example, if the system reduces an average two-minute customer waiting time by five seconds, service has been improved, but few companies would expend effort to achieve such a trivial result, and, more important, no customers will notice.

Justifications are quantified only when they are expressed in terms of dollars (or some other currency). They might involve payroll savings, increased sales, or reduced costs in areas such as inventory or finance charges. However they are expressed, justifications must be quantified so that they can be assessed and projects can be approved based on real-financial-benefits.

Justifications Are Goals, Not Predictions

Assume that a project is justified by an expected sales increase of 15 percent. When the project is being evaluated, nobody can state with certainty what the increase will be; it can simply be said that one is expected. A 15 percent increase is an estimate, subject to the vagaries of all estimates. Whether or not this figure is realized depends on whether it is treated as a goal or as a prediction.

A prediction is a guess about what will happen; a goal is a target to be achieved. The difference is startling. With a prediction, the outcome of the project is left to the fates, who, the client hopes, will be kind. With a goal, the justification becomes a matter of policy, planned within the overall project. It becomes part of the system implementation plan, enters your purview, and becomes a discrete set of activities rather than an idle hope.

Your job is to ensure that justifications become goals that management accepts the responsibility for achieving.

Intangible Benefits

Justifications for projects usually include a long, predictable list of "intangible benefits." The problem is that there is no such thing; all benefits are realized in terms of costs or revenue. To call a benefit "intangible" simply means that nobody has been able-or has bothered-to attach hard numbers to it. For example, consider flexibility. (This word, like most words used to label intangible benefits, lacks a consistent definition. Here, I use it to describe a system that can be easily modified.) With a flexible system, enhancements will take less effort, producing the tangible benefits that maintenance costs will be lower and enhancement requests will be delivered faster. Furthermore, client departments will realize the tangible benefits arising from enhancements sooner. Flexibility is a benefit because it leads to real results. The problem is how to measure what those results will be.

Some will argue that even though certain benefits cannot be quantified, they should still be identified. Indeed they should, but only if they are used to set targets. For example:

The system will be flexible. "We intend to reduce maintenance costs by 15 percent, which will save us $24,000 per year." The system will be developed with state-of-the-art tools. "We plan to increase development productivity by two function points per work-month, which will save us an average of $100,000 per year in development costs at current levels." The system will be integrated. "We plan to lever the greater access to customer information into a 5 percent increase in sales, which will boost our revenues by $200,000 per year."

The point of setting targets is to ensure that a real-that is, tangible dollar-benefit emerges from the flexible, state-of-the-art, or integrated nature of the system.

The best way to quantify an intangible benefit is to ask three questions: "So what?"; "How much?"; and "What does that work out to in dollars?" (Your actual phraseology may not be as blunt, but the intent is the same.) Keep asking these questions until you get an answer with a dollar value in it. Ultimately, the slipperiest project advocate will be forced into giving numbers, however imprecise, or admitting that none can be stated, in which case the "benefit" has evaporated.

Here's a brief example:

Client: The system will be flexible.

Project Manager: So what?

Client: So we'll be able to modify it more easily.

PM: So what?

Client: Well, that means that our maintenance time will be cut.

PM: How much?

Client: That's hard to quantify.

PM: Make a guess. (How much?)

Client: Well, perhaps by 15 percent.

PM: And what does that work out to in dollars?

Client: Well, we have three maintenance programmers at $60,000 per year. That's $180,000 per year total, so we could probably save about $24,000 each year.

You have just shifted the benefit from an intangible wish to a real target.

If a benefit is incapable of being quantified-as opposed to having highly uncertain results-then it is not a benefit, it carries no implicit target, and it does not belong in any list of justifications.

Beware the Phantom Justification

Consider a project that is justified by a reduced time to process business transactions. The numbers indicate that each of five people will have his or her workloads reduced by an average of an hour a day, which, at a salary (plus benefits) rate of $30 an hour, will save the company $150 per day, or $37,500 per year. Here are just three things that could go wrong with this justification:

1. A reduction of five hours a day is less than one full-time person, which makes it difficult to reduce staff. It is true that because of the resulting slack time, extra work can be assigned to the people. But the benefit comes from a redistribution of work, not from staff cuts.

2. The people are currently overloaded and have to cut corners. The reduced workload means that they can do a more thorough job, which may lead to improved quality, but not staff cost savings.

3. The people may have specialized skills, which means that they are not interchangeable. Nobody can be cut, and there is no real benefit.

The problem with the apparent cost saving is that it is an effect, not a benefit. Certainly, the five people will each have an extra hour, but that hour does not automatically translate into returns for the company.

An effect differs from a benefit in that it does not directly lead to reduced costs or increased revenue. Reducing the staff time required to perform some task saves nothing unless the payroll is actually reduced. Making customer information more accessible to the sales staff achieves nothing unless the information leads to increased sales. Improving quality is pointless unless sales are increased or service costs are reduced. Effects may lead to benefits, but only benefits constitute justification for the costs of a project.

The best way to smoke out effects is to ask questions until you are satisfied that the "benefit" is real. Here's a simple example:

Client: The staff workload will be cut by five hours per day.

Project Manager: How does that help?

Client: We'll be able to cut our costs.

PM: How?

Client: Uh, good question. We don't have enough of a savings to cut staff.

PM: What else could these people do with their extra time?

Client: Well, right now they complain of being rushed. More time would enable them to do a better job, which could cut rework. If we could reduce that by just 10 percent, it would save us, let's see, over $200,000 per year.

PM: Would the improved quality get you more customers?

Client: Perhaps, but I know that it would improve goodwill among existing customers. There's an intangible benefit!

PM: So what?

By the time this dialogue is over, not only will you have helped the client identify where the real benefits of the system are to be sought, you will have increased the benefits far beyond what could be realized from simply laying off staff.

In reviewing project justifications, ensure that the effects of the system lead to real benefits that are capable of being realized.

Payback Period

Some companies insist on a payback period before they will approve an expenditure. This is the period in which the benefits will fully recover the project costs. Payback periods are easy to compute: divide the project costs, including operations costs, by the annual benefits. Adjust for months, and you will have the number of months required to recover the project costs.

The payback period is a powerful indicator of how desirable a project is. If the costs can be recovered in under a year, few companies will decline to proceed. If it will take four or five years, few will approve the project. Most companies that ask for a payback period in a project proposal have guidelines indicating what periods are acceptable and what are not.

When you are computing a payback period, do not concern yourself with calculating future costs of money unless your company requires it. For most projects, the payback period is short enough that inflation is not a significant factor.

Cost Components

When you review your project's cost-benefit analysis, examine the costs to ensure that they are complete. Many projects have run into trouble because a major item, such as software licenses or consulting fees, was not included in the costs. The costs should also identify operating expenses during the payback period.

Exhibit 2.1 is a checklist that identifies costs that your project may include and that should be part of the cost-benefit analysis.

Exhibit 2.1

Continues...


Excerpted from Information Systems Project Management by Jolyon E. Hallows Copyright © 2001 by Jolyon E. Hallows. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)